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Inside FWISD December 20, 2018 (Winter Break Edition)

SUPERINTENDENT’S HOLIDAY MESSAGE WAS A YEAR IN THE MAKING

Before you take in the Grinch, Mary Poppins or other holiday season sequels, watch this Fort Worth ISD sequel. It’s Superintendent Kent Scribner’s December 2018 message to teachers and staff.

You may remember last year’s holiday message was “to be continued.”

It captured the anticipation of the opening of the I.M. Terrell Academy for STEM and VPA. The message ended with FWISD student Maite Herrera dreaming of the Steinway grand piano she would play one day in the Academy’s beautiful performance hall.

Now the school is open, and the story has the ending we’ve been waiting for! Enjoy watching and have a very Merry Christmas.

FWISD OBSERVES WINTER BREAK DEC. 24- JAN. 4

The Fort Worth ISD will close for winter break at the end of day, Friday, December 21, so that students and employees may enjoy the holidays with their loved ones.

Students at most FWISD high schools will have early dismissal from classes, Friday, December 21. Check with officials at your campus for more details. All other schools are expected to dismiss students at the regular-scheduled time.

District staff will return to work Monday, January 7, 2019 for teacher preparation and waiver days. FWISD will welcome students back for the spring semester on Wednesday, January 9, 2019.

FWISD Stakeholders’ Climate Survey Ends Friday

One day remains to let the District know what you think!

Participate, and you could win a prize. Both schools and parents are eligible.

Tomorrow, Friday, December 21 is the final day to participate in the 2018-2019 Fort Worth Stakeholders’ Climate Survey. The District is asking its key stakeholders – students, parents, staff and community members – to share their attitudes and beliefs about FWISD’s climate and culture.

All responses are anonymous. FWISD students and employees will be asked to enter their student or employee identification number to authenticate their association with the District.

To boost participation, the Family Communications Department is partnering with the Grants Compliance and Monitoring Department to offer incentives to schools receiving a final response rate of 10 percent or higher for families.

Campuses with a response rate of 10 percent are higher will be entered in a drawing for personalized parent engagement support valued at $300. Ten schools will receive materials, parenting classes and a customized training of its choice to boost family engagement on campus. Other drawings will offer parent participants a variety of fun, family-friendly gift baskets.

Have questions about the survey? Contact the Grants Compliance and Monitoring Department at 817-814-1850 or email Askeval@fwisd.org.

Click here for more details.

READ FORT WORTH INTRODUCES PHASE 2: OUR COLLECTIVE JOURNEY TO 100X25

The following communication from Read Fort Worth:

Read Fort Worth’s next iteration was unveiled Monday, December 17, at a Key Community Stakeholders Luncheon entitled “Mobilizing the Next Phase: Our Collective Journey to 100x25.” BNSF Railway sponsored the Key Community Stakeholders Luncheon at the Lena Pope Amon Carter Center.

“Read Fort Worth has big, audacious goals around school readiness and third-grade reading,” Read Fort Worth Executive Director Anel Mercado said. “We’ll tackle them by working alongside our community through our Collaborative Action Networks. Together, we can make a powerful difference in these areas.”

The program included presentations from BNSF Railway Executive Chairman Matt Rose, Fort Worth Mayor’s Office Chief of Staff Mattie Parker, Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Dr. Kent Scribner and Anel Mercado.

Fort Worth ISD also produced a video for the luncheon, “Read Fort Worth: Phase 2.”

About Read Fort Worth

Read Fort Worth exists to provide unique, actionable data; to organize and align partners under the shared 100x25 goal; to develop strategies for significant improvement, and to communicate best practices and drive results. For more information, visit www.ReadFortWorth.org.

FWISD COLLECTS DONATIONS FOR THE HOMELESS

Collected Items Will Be Distributed During District’s First MLK Community Service Day

The Fort Worth ISD is kicking off a donation drive for socks, gloves, hats and nonperishable food items that are being distributed to the city’s homeless population next month.

The week of Monday, December 17, donation boxes will be set up at the FWISD Central Administration Building and six District schools to collect socks, hats, gloves and nonperishable food items. Donations will be accepted through Friday, January 11, 2019.

Campuses will collect the following which will be added to care packages for the homeless:

Socks: Poly and North Side high schools, Young Men’s Leadership Academy and Eastern Hills Elementary School

Hats and Gloves: Tanglewood and Carter Park elementary schools and Paschal High

Nonperishable Food: Central Administration Building lobby near the University Grill and on the second floor near the stairs

The care packages and a meal will be distributed to approximately 200 homeless individuals, Monday, January 21, 2019, as part of the District’s first Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Day.

The service event is one of two FWISD employees and students are leading this school year. Students are slated to participate in service projects this spring on Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta Day, Monday, March 25, 2019.

“Service to one’s community is both a responsibility and a gift,” said Mia Hall, FWISD’s executive director for its Equity and Excellence Division and organizer for next month’s employee service day. “I strongly believe in the importance of servant leadership, and as educators we are role models for our students. I’m very excited for the opportunity to impact my community through service and making a difference in the lives of others.”

Approximately 40 campus principals and central administration employees are encouraged to volunteer assembling care packages and distributing meals and care packages for the District’s MLK Community Service Day.

Assembly of the donated items is slated to take place from 8- 10 a.m. Monday, January 21 at the FWISD Central Administration Building, 100 N. University Drive. To sign up, click here.

Meals and care packages are being distributed from 10:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. at the Fort Worth Safe House, 1505 E. Lancaster, Ave. Sign up to serve here.

Employees must sign up through Voly, the District’s online volunteer management system to participate.

For more details, contact Mrs. Hall at 817-814-2339 or email mia.hall@fwisd.org.

Dream Comes to Life at FWISD’s I.M. Terrell Academy for STEM and VPA Dedication Ceremony

Last December, Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent P. Scribner delivered a holiday message to the community about big goals, dreams, and things not yet seen. Don’t remember it? Click here for a quick look back at a promise.

On Friday, December 7, that unrealized dream came alive as the Fort Worth ISD formally dedicated the new I.M. Terrell Academy for STEM and VPA. And, that same young lady featured in the video, FWISD alumna Maite Herrera, returned to the stage to bathe the new 900-seat performance hall in the glow of a Steinway Grand piano.

Festivities also included information booths where guests could hear from students about the academy’s various disciplines and campus tours. A commemorative stained-glass mosaic of the school namesake, created by students and sponsored by SiNaCa Studios, was unveiled moments before the program began.

The ceremony included remarks from T.A. Sims, Fort Worth ISD Board of Education First Vice President, Board President Tobi Jackson, Kelly Allen Gray, Fort Worth District 8 councilwoman, Principal Baldwin Brown, Dr. Scribner, Dr. Kathy Scherler, associate principal for visual and performing arts and Lynsey Charles, associate principal for STEM and academics. The presentation of colors was done by the Western Hills High School JROTC. Performances included I.M. Terrell choral, string orchestra and dance students. To close out the program, current students joined hands with Terrell alumni to sing the school alma mater.

View the entire dedication ceremony in the video below, and event photos here.

I.M. Terrell Academy Students Receive Invite to Facebook Headquarters

Students from Fort Worth ISD’s I.M. Terrell Academy for STEM and VPA are finalists for the Facebook Engineer for the Week Achievement Challenge.

Recently, 18 engineer students received an invite to visit the social media company’s headquarters in California next May. In October, I.M. Terrell partnered with the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History to facilitate the Facebook Engineer for the Week program. Students developed video games illustrating social problems in their communities.

Read more about the program and the recognition received by I.M. Terrell Academy in this recent Fort Worth Business Press article.

FIREMEN MAKE EARLY CHRISTMAS DELIVERY TO MAUDE LOGAN ES

Firefighters recently saw a need at Fort Worth ISD’s Leadership Academy at Maude I. Logan Elementary School and stepped up to the plate to lend their support.

Firemen pulled up to the school in a fire engine decorated with blue and white lights to deliver an early Christmas present, Thursday, December 13 – a new washer and dryer. The donation was presented on behalf of Fort Worth Firefighter Charities.

Fire Chief Jim Davis and Assistant Fire Director Mark Rauscher noticed the wear and tear of the school’s previous washer and dryer while on campus for a recent event and wanted to lend their help. The appliances will assist in cleaning clothes for students and their families when needed.

“Fort Worth Fire Department on a non-related event, they came, and they saw that our children had a need to make sure that their clothes looked as best as they possibly could,” said Principal Steven Moore. “Learning really begins with feeling good about one’s self, and if we feel good about ourselves, then we’re a little more apt to pay a little closer attention in class and to be more engaged in lessons.”

View video from this special delivery below

Registration Opens for 14th Annual FWTC

Registration is underway for the 14th annual Fort Worth Technology Conference.

Make plans now to be part of an invigorating event that promises to offer practical technology tools educators can take back and immediately implement in their lesson plans and administrative tasks.

“The Fort Worth Technology Conference isn't about the technology. It's about teacher and classroom transformation,” said Dr. Becky Navarre, assistant superintendent of technology for the Division of Academics. “There's a session for everyone at FWTC to meet you where you are in the technology integration journey. There's no hidden agenda here; the objective is to learn and grow in our craft to make a better tomorrow for our students.”

Nearly 400 people have already registered to attend, so make plans to be part of the fun.

Registration is free for all FWISD educators, and the campus with the most attendees will win a prize. Pre-register by January 18 and receive a box lunch and conference gift. Admission for out-of-district attendees is $35 for those who register by January 18 and $40 on-site.

The FWTC is slated from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, January 26 at Southwest High School.

For more conference details, visit www.fwisd.org/fwtc.

GOLD SEAL Applications Up For NON-FWISD Students

Gold Seal Programs and Schools of Choice application submissions for non-Fort Worth ISD students increased by more than 200 for the 2019-2020 school year.

A total of 807 Gold Seal applications, nearly 15 percent of the submissions received for the 2019-2020 year, are from students currently enrolled in other districts, private schools or homeschooled. That’s 234 more applications than the District received the 2018-2019 year from non-FWISD students, according to Karen Ponder, coordinator for FWISD’s programs of choice. Nearly 5,400 students in all submitted applications to enroll in FWISD’s Gold Seal Programs and Schools of Choice for the 2019-2020 school year.

This year, the district transitioned to an online Gold Seal application process, which families applauded.

“Everybody talked about how easy it was,” Ms. Ponder said. “It was pretty straightforward.”

Admission into Gold Seal programs and schools is based on a computer-generated lottery selection process. Families will be notified about admission the week of February 4, 2019. Beginning March 1, 2019, students may still apply to programs and schools with available spaces.

Gold Seal Programs of Choice and Schools of Choice appeal to student interests and passions and equip students with skills to thrive in college and the workforce. The rigorous program categories include engineering, agriculture, business administration, fine arts, government and law, health science, hospitality, marketing, public safety, technology, visual and graphic arts and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) just to list a few. The programs allow students to finish high school college-and-career-ready and with opportunities to obtain multiple college credits, licensures and certifications.

For more details, visit fwisd.org/choice.

FWISD JOINS LOCKHEED MARTIN ARMED FORCES BOWL EVENTS FOR SEVENTH STRAIGHT YEAR

Once again, the Fort Worth ISD is participating in festivities for the 2018 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl this week. This makes the seven straight year the District has been part of events for the college football bowl game.

The University of Houston Cougars will face the Army- West Point Black Knights in the 16th annual Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, Saturday, December 22 at Texas Christian University’s Amon G. Carter Stadium. Kickoff for the sold-out game is set for 2:30 p.m.

District students are slated to participate in the following activities:

A combined JROTC Joint Service Color Guard will present the U.S. and armed forces service flags during the annual Kick-off Armed Forces Bowl Luncheon being held on Friday, December 21.

The I.M. Terrell Academy for STEM and VPA Choir, under the direction of Alex Carr, will perform the national anthem at the Kick-off Luncheon.

Luncheon guests will be treated to a special patriotic art show and placemats with works created by Fort Worth ISD students.

Approximately 600 uniformed JROTC/JCC students are invited to attend the game on behalf of Armed Forces Bowl

Mascots for Western Hills, Polytechnic, Arlington Heights and Paschal high schools will participate in pre-game activities and be on hand for photos with fans

And a 30-second commercial highlighting the Fort Worth ISD’s “You Belong Here” campaign will be shown on the big stadium screen during the game

The televised game will air on ESPN. For more bowl details, visit www.armedforcesbowl.com.

EHHS JUNIOR LOOKS TO REVIVE SCHOOL SWIM TEAM

Layla Harris’ Efforts Featured in a Recent NBC5 Story

Layla Harris is looking to revitalize the swim team at Fort Worth ISD’s Eastern Hills High School.

Currently a team of one, the high school junior’s efforts were the subject of a Monday Motivation feature that aired December 10, on NBC5 (KXAS-TV). Layla’s goal is to recruit three additional swimmers and create a girls’ relay team in 2019.

Through an arrangement with the FWISD Athletics Department and Paschal High, Layla works out with the Paschal swim team at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center’s aquatics facility and represents the EHHS Highlanders in swim contests.

Layla is also a member of the EHHS JROTC, Girls Inc., she takes Advanced Placement /pre-AP classes, and works at the YMCA.

Click here to view the NBC5’s story about this well-rounded student-athlete.

HUBBARD HEIGHTS, W.J. TURNER CROWNED FITWORTH CHALLENGE WINNER

Fort Worth ISD’s Hubbard Heights and W.J. Turner elementary schools are the 2018 winners of the Mayor’s FitWorth Challenge.

The wellness contest, now in its seventh year, encouraged school physical education classes to get an hour of physical activity, eat five servings of fruits and vegetables, drink six to eight servings of water and read extra minutes during the month of October. Schools practicing healthy habits and accumulating the most physical activity minutes are recognized as the challenge winners.

Read more here.

BMHS Violinist Selected to TMEA All State Orchestra

Violinist Mary Michael of Fort Worth ISD’s Benbrook Middle-High School is among student musicians slated to perform with the All State Symphony Orchestra at the 2019 Texas Music Educators Association Convention.

This is Mary’s first selection to an All State orchestra.

Read more here.

D. McRae ES, WHHS Take Home November Webby Award Honors

Congratulations to D. McRae Elementary School and Western Hills High School, Fort Worth ISD’s Webby Award November challenge winners.

Campus principals from the two school received the coveted Webby Award trophy for display on their campus for the next month and a Kroger gift card for campus use. Award presentations were made at elementary and secondary principals’ meetings, December 12 and 13 at the Professional Development Center.

November’s challenge theme – Thankful for Our Students – encouraged campus webmasters to showcase students participating in campus events, field trips and other activities via video and photos.

“The competition was fierce, but the standouts were clear,” said Thomas Ketchersid, FWISD’s web communications coordinator. “Every month, more campuses are stepping up, and [the campus] websites are looking better than ever.”

Distributed monthly by the FWISD Communications Department, the Webby Awards recognizes campus websites that engage families, students, alumni and the community at large. Elementary and secondary campus websites that best complete the monthly challenge are recognized with the Webby Award at principals’ meetings.

The December Webby Award challenge is “Tis the Season.” Campus webmasters are encouraged to feature stories and images of student groups giving back to the community and those in need this holiday season.

For more details or assistance with your campus website, visit www.fwisd.org/websitetraining or email web@fwisd.org.

Paschal Men’s Ensemble Becomes District’s First Choir Invited to Perform at TMEA Convention

The Men’s Ensemble from Fort Worth ISD’s Paschal High School will soon become the District’s first choir performing at the Texas Music Educators Association Convention.

The ensemble is among a select group of choirs taking the stage at the 2019 convention this February in San Antonio.

“This coveted invitation is only extended to 12 ensembles across the state of Texas each year, and only two men’s ensembles are invited,” said Dinah Menger, FWISD’s director of choral and elementary music. “This invitation is the first for any Fort Worth ISD choral program in the history of the District.”

Under the direction of Mr. Nathan Benavides and Mrs. Trevlyn Nipper, the Men’s Ensemble is slated to perform at 7 p.m., Thursday, February 14 at San Antonio’s Henry B. González Convention Center.

INA SLATES 25-YEAR ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION

The International Newcomer Academy is hosting its 25th Anniversary Celebration: 25 Years of Welcoming Newcomers from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, December 20 at the campus, located at 7060 Camp Bowie Blvd.

Come hear about the school’s history as well as listen to success stories from former and current students. Written, electronic and video recordings on display in designated rooms will share the stories of past and present students. The celebration will also include additional presentations, performances and a wall of fame recognition.

Read more here.

FWISD Academic Teaching Chair Honoree Gives Birth to Twins

Humanities Winner on Teaching Career: “It’s what I love to do.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Over the next few weeks, Inside FWISD will feature individual acceptance speeches from Fort Worth ISD’s 2018-2019 Academic Chairs for Teaching Excellence.

Samantha Keaton, a social studies teacher at Fort Worth ISD’s Young Women’s Leadership Academy, has much to be thankful for this holiday season.

Just one day after being honored as the 2018-2019 Sewell Lexus and Infiniti of Fort Worth Chair for Teaching Excellence in Humanities, Mrs. Keaton gave birth to twins. Katelynn Marie and Emory Elizabeth, weighing six pounds, three ounces, and five pounds, 13 ounces, respectively, were born at 12:04 p.m. November 15.

Mrs. Keaton, a mother of three, said that’s she’s now adjusting to her “new normal.”

“We are beyond excited that our family has grown from three to five and the to see the bonds that they create with each other,” she said.

Photos courtesy of Mrs. Keaton

Dennis DeCet of Sewell Lexus and Infiniti of Fort Worth, who introduced Mrs. Keaton at the Teaching Chairs Luncheon, called the imminent birth of her twins “a whole other level of commitment.”

Mrs. Keaton said that long as she can remember she’s wanted to be a teacher.

“This is what I love to do,” she said at the luncheon. “Are there bad days? Of course. But, it’s the good days that keep me coming back and it’s the amazing days that keep me driving to improve my craft.

“I love teaching students and being there when they realize that there are doors that they did not know existed.”

Mrs. Keaton earned her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Texas at Arlington, and has taught in FWISD for 11 years. As a teacher, Mrs. Keaton believes she is responsible for creating learning experiences that put students in the driver’s seat of their education, and she aims to captivate her students through dynamic storytelling lessons.

THE GARY PATTERSON FOUNDATION AWARDS $325K IN GRANTS TO FWISD LIBRARIES

Nearly 40 Fort Worth ISD elementary school libraries will soon undergo upgrades, thanks to The Gary Patterson Foundation.

Kelsey Patterson, foundation secretary/treasurer and wife of foundation chairman and Texas Christian University head football Coach Gary Patterson, awarded $325,000 in grants to 38 FWISD libraries, Monday, December 17, in a check presentation hosted at Worth Heights Elementary School. According to the Star-Telegram, the donation is the largest made by the nonprofit in its 13-year history.

Click here to see the FWISD schools benefitting from the grants.

SHHS ALUM TYLAN WALLACE NAMED A FINALIST FOR EARL CAMPBELL TYLER ROSE AWARD

South Hills High School alumnus Tylan Wallace may not have won the Biletnikoff Award, December 6, but he’s in the running for yet another college football award which recognizes Division I college offensive players.

Mr. Wallace, a 2017 South Hills High graduate, is one of six finalists for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award. Finalists were announced December 6.

The Oklahoma State University sophomore needs your vote for the chance at becoming this year’s winner. Cast your vote once daily at https://www.earlcampbellaward.com/voting/.

Mr. Wallace is set to close out his 2018 season at OSU playing in the Liberty Bowl against Missouri, December 31 in Memphis, Tennessee.

Click here to read more about Mr. Wallace and the accolades he's received just this month.

DHJ Alum Recognized As Exemplary Volunteer

Tony Cuestas, a 2008 alumnus of Diamond Hill-Jarvis High School, was recently recognized by the Board of Education for being an exemplary volunteer.

Mr. Cuestas, who has volunteered more than five years at his alma mater and Meacham Middle School, was presented with a certificate of appreciation from the Family Communications Department at the December 11 board meeting.

Volunteer work for Mr. Cuestas runs the gamut from working sporting events and chaperoning the DHJ fan bus to participating with the Fort Worth Code Blue at School Program, a volunteer group that patrols near FWISD schools.

Maggie Diaz, DHJ school secretary, calls him “hardworking, dedicated … always willing to give more of himself.”

Principal James Garcia echoed those sentiments.

“Tony Cuestas is a vital part of the Diamond Hill staff and community,” he said. “He works tirelessly directing traffic in the mornings and afternoons at Diamond Hill and Meacham as parents are dropping off students. He does all of this as a volunteer.”

FWISD ANNOUNCES ATHLETES SELECTED TO ALL-DISTRICT, ACADEMIC ALL-STATE TEAMS

The Fort Worth ISD Athletics Department has announced football players named to the First Team All-District/ District Superlative and student-athletes named to the Texas High School Coaches Association (THSCA) Academic All-State Teams.

Click here to see the complete list of FWISD student-athletes recently named to All-District and Academic All-State teams.

FWISD ADVISES EMPLOYEES OF EMAIL PHISHING SCAM

Do you know that someone in another part of the world could be watching what you are doing on your computer right now?

Unfortunately, the Fort Worth ISD has been slammed by a recent increase of e-mail phishing scams. This means you could unknowingly be providing important information to scammers hoping to benefit while you are just doing your normal work.

Click here for tips on how to identify a phishing scam and more.

EAP Assistance This hOLIDAY sEASON

The following communication is from FWISD's Employee Assistance Program provider, Alliance Work Partners:

sAVE THE dATE

Whiz Quiz Coming January 14-16

YWLA Juniors Reflect on Meeting Former First Lady

Lifechanging.

It’s how Young Women’s Leadership Academy juniors Brittany Clay and Diana Duran described their encounter meeting Michelle Obama, the former first lady of the United States, Monday, December 17.

Sitting in a breakout session discussing Mrs. Obama’s new memoir, “Becoming,” at the Young Women’s Leadership Conference: Leadership Lessons Learned through the Arts in Dallas, the two girls had no idea that they would have an opportunity to embrace and speak with her.

Mrs. Obama who was in Dallas for her book tour, “Becoming: An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama,” made a surprise visit to the conference earlier in the day.

As Mrs. Obama’s heels echoed on the floor and she emerged from behind a curtain to greet the girls, Brittany Clay at first glance couldn’t move, she said.

“All I could do was cry,” she said.

For more than an hour the girls said Mrs. Obama sat with them to discuss the book and simply listen to the insecurities and struggles faced by the young ladies in the room. The YWLA juniors said it was reassuring to them to hear Mrs. Obama tell them “I’m just like you,” and that they have greatness in them – they just have to seek it out.

“Meeting Michelle Obama and getting a chance to interact with her on a personal level was beyond lifechanging for me,” Brittany said. “In that very moment, she gave me the momentum to reflect positive energy within myself and bring forth change in my community.

“Honestly, I wake up just so thankful.”

Having those moments with Mrs. Obama was “an extraordinary experience” that Diana Duran said she will “forever be grateful for.” As a girl who struggles with not always believing in herself, she said that Mrs. Obama’s book resonated with her because it offered messages of hope and resilience. She said it was uplifting to hear Mrs. Obama say that she believed in them and that they were the reasons for the work she does.

“Getting the chance to meet and interact with such an extraordinary role model such as Michelle Obama is something that I will forever be grateful for,” Diana said. “The biggest impact that she made for me was her genuinely telling me that she believes in me and getting to hear her say to not let anyone that doesn’t know you tell you what you can and cannot do.”

In all, 11 YWLA students attended the Young Women’s Leadership Conference and a sold-out event later that evening in which Mrs. Obama sat down for a conversation moderated by Valerie Jarrett, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, at the American Airlines Center in Dallas to discuss her book.

Also attending the evening event were 67 high school and middle school students from Fort Worth ISD who won a contest in which they completed a 500-word or less essay on how Mrs. Obama has modeled leadership and scholarship in her lifetime, the ways they themselves have exemplified leadership at their school and in the community, and the impact attending this event would have on their life.

Read more here.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ask Elsie is a column where Chief Financial Officer Elsie Schiro tackles employee queries, or in areas outside her purview, asks other District leaders to answer them.

Dear Elsie,

Please explain the purpose of starting elementary school at 7:50 a.m. this year as opposed to the traditional 8 a.m. This is also after advising parents of stricter rules and threats of punishment for attendance issues. I am a working parent with one child in middle school with a start time of 9:15 a.m. and another in elementary with a start time of 7:50 a.m. It is very inconvenient, and I genuinely do not understand the purpose.

In Kind Regards,

8-5 Working Mom

Dear 8-5 Working Mom,

Thank you for your question, 8-5 Working Mom. I reached out to Karen Molinar, chief of staff for the Policy and Planning Department, and here’s the response: “In 2015, the Texas Legislature changed the way school districts account for student instructional time. Instead of the old 180-day calendar, lawmakers decided that students must be in class at least 75,600 minutes each year. Starting with the 2018-2019 school year, the Fort Worth ISD implemented a new daily class schedule. While it means 10 to 15 more minutes in class for students, the benefits – both instructionally and operationally – are many. And, FWISD will join many other districts in aligning with a new state law based on minutes, not days. Under our ongoing campaign of Attendance Adds Up, the District is unveiling the following schedule:

  • Fort Worth ISD’s traditional high schools will now begin at 8:25 a.m. and end at 3:40 p.m.
  • Middle schools will begin at 9:15 a.m. and end their day at 4:30 p.m.
  • And, traditional elementary school students in the Fort Worth ISD will begin at 7:50 a.m. and conclude at 3 p.m.

The District’s Schools of Choice, early college high schools, and other specialty schools will also extend their instructional day but some with different beginning and ending times. Under the new state law, teachers will work the same number of hours as they did under the 180-day calendar. Changing from days to minutes (a day is considered to be at least 420 minutes) brings benefits to student and their families as well as districts. The increased learning time will provide more opportunity for integrated instruction. It will benefit students who may need additional assistance. Also, under the old 180-day system, the Fort Worth ISD had to include two weather make-up days. These days were often scheduled for Good Friday or for the day after school was scheduled to end. Allowing FWISD to count, and accumulate minutes, however, allows for the elimination of the scheduled ‘weather days.’ By adding 10 or 15 minutes to each day, students will gain enough minutes to still meet the state required goal without adding extra days.”

Thanks again for your question 8-5 Working Mom and thank you Ms. Molinar for your response.

Elsie

Dear Elsie,

So the Texas Observer had an article in August that although it is federal law to give high school seniors materials and the opportunity to register to vote twice in their senior year, two-thirds of Texas schools NEVER request the materials to offer to their students. Can you tell me if the Fort Worth ISD has requested the materials and is complying with the federal law?

Debbie Dreyspring

Dear Ms. Dreyspring,

Thank you for your question. I reached out to Karen Molinar, chief of staff for the Policy and Planning Department, and here’s the response: “This year, FWISD students participated in Student Voting Day. This fall, many eligible students across Texas, including FWISD students, cast their ballots on Friday, October 26. The first Friday of early voting is recognized as #StudentVotingDay in Texas. A state proclamation, issued in 2017, encourages young voters to exercise their rights. ‘This is a day when our entire community is called upon to urge and encourage all eligible students in Texas to make their voices heard by casting their ballots at ANY polling location in their county of registration,’ according to Texas Secretary of State, Rolando Pablos. A total of 854 students registered as first-time voters in their schools prior to the October 9 voter registration deadline.”

Thanks again for your question Ms. Dreyspring, and thank you Ms. Molinar for your response.

Elsie

Dear Elsie,

Why does our District work on a national holiday like Memorial Day? I haven’t found any other district that works on this day, so I wonder why we do not have this recognized as a regular holiday for ALL employees?

Thank you,

Candice

Dear Candice,

Thank you for your question. I reached out to Karen Molinar, chief of staff for the Policy and Planning Department, and here’s the response: “ We will bring the concern to the calendar committee.”

Thanks again for your question Candice, and thank you Ms. Molinar for your response.

Elsie

Direct your questions to Inside@fwisd.org and put the words "Ask Elsie" in the subject line. Please close your letter with your preferred signature as you wish it to appear in the column. When there are multiple queries on the same subject, we will select the one that is most representative of the subject. We will try to answer as many questions as possible.

Please bear with us as we have a backlog of Ask Elsie questions and are responding to questions as soon as we can.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following are recent photos from across the Fort Worth ISD.

Holiday Concert Series (View archived broadcasts of the concerts at www.facebook.com/fortworthisd)

Metro Opportunity High School partners with local food bank to provide groceries to students and their families

570 KLIF provides students at Charles E. Nash Elementary School with $21, 831 for the KLIF Kids Toy Drive

Family Communications liaisons attend a Resource Fair hosted by the Family Communications Department, Thursday, December 20

Officers from the Fort Worth Police Department South Division donate stuffed animals to students at the Leadership Academy at John T. White

Conference on the Education of Hispanics

Presents collected through FWISD's Early Learning Angel Tree program were recently distributed to some of the District's youngest learners

FWISD URGES PRINCIPALS TO USE PARENTLINK/BLACKBOARD COMMUNICATION SYSTEM

The following communication is from Clint Bond, executive director of external and emergency communications, regarding the Parentlink/Blackboard Mass Communications System

CROWDFUNDING TIPS

The following communication is the Grants and Development Department:

Before you set up a crowdfunding account, please contact the District's Senior Project Development Specialist Stephanie Pollard at stephanie.pollard@fwisd.org.

Professional Learning and Innovation Opportunities

Elementary Professional Learning Opportunities for December

2018-2019 Fort Worth ISD Stakeholders' Climate Survey, Ends December 21

International Newcomer Academy 25th Anniversary Celebration, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, December 20

Burton Hill Hispanic Winter Festival, Thursday, December 20

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, Saturday, December 22

Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24

Winter Break, December 24-January 4

Christmas Day, Tuesday, December 25

Kwanzaa Begins, Wednesday, December 26

New Year's Eve, Monday, January 31

New Year's Day, January 1, 2019

Whiz Quiz, January 14-16

Fort Worth Technology Conference, January 26, 2019

Share your story ideas, successes, calendar items, photos, questions and feedback with us at Inside@FWISD.org. Check the Inside FWISD blog, www.fwisd.org/insidefwisd, regularly updated throughout the week with additional content and features.

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